Turning 100, the accolades for Henry Kissinger are pouring in. He is a legend. Over decades, he has assiduously cultivated and constructed the image of the sagacious elder statesman. Corporate journalists hang on his every word. Politicians seek his advice. But what is his record to deserve such respect and reverence? He is one of the most notorious characters of this or any other period in history. Just ask the Kurds, the East Timorese, the Bangladeshis, the Laotians, and the Chileans what they think of the Nobel Peace Prize laureate. But since they are “unpeople,” their opinions don’t count. When he was Nixon’s national security advisor, Kissinger displayed his kowtowing to power when he kept silent as his boss made anti-Semitic remarks. When Nixon demanded that Cambodia be bombed, he conveyed the order like a good errand boy. It was Kissinger who once boasted, “The illegal we do immediately, the unconstitutional takes a little longer.”
Recorded at the University of Montana.
Greg Grandin, winner of the Pulitzer Prize, is a professor of history at Yale. He is the author of The End of the Myth, The Blood of Guatemala, and Kissinger’s Shadow. A recipient of fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the New York Public Library, he has served on the UN Truth Commission investigating the Guatemalan Civil War. His articles appear in the Los Angeles Times, The Nation, and The New York Times.